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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

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However, L wisn to argue that not every compulsory measure can be
tificd even as a last resort. The continuation of human life depends upon
exercise of our reproductive powers. To maintain a population at a rep'
me ill level requires slightly more than two children per couple at the d
vales now prevailing in affluent nations. In principle, every couple in
world could be granted the right and privilege to have at least two childre
their own.* The threat of overpopulation is not in itself a sufficient argui
lor singling out any given type of individual for compulsory sterilizatioi
compulsory abortions. The suggestion by Davis (8) that abortions be reqi
in cases in which the child would be illegitimate not only dries up the
important source of children for sterile couples but also denies the ui
woman any right to a moral decision regarding either the fate of her fet
the physical risks to which she will be subjected.
The right to exercise one's procreative powers is not identical will tight to have as many children as one wants through the use of those po In a situation of last resort, society might very well decide to ratioi number of children per family and try to provide some just means, 1 lottery, for deciding who will be permitted to reproduce more than children. This limits the right to choose how many children one will hav rtot the right to choose to have one or two children of one's own. Ket< proposal threatens this right, since by the use of sterilants that reduce e one's fertility some people arc involuntarily made infertile. Of cow Ketchel can prevent or offset such mishaps, his proposal could be use* method of rationing.
The right to have a choice regarding the exercise of one's procr powers and to be able to retain the capacity to procreate is as fundamer t he i iglit to life.'' Choosing to have a child of one's own is a choice as to
*ln the United Slates there are sterilization laws in some states that peiti slcrili/.nlion of certain elasses of people. In North Carolina, for example, the ment Uu- feebleminded, and epileptics may be sterilized (35). Presumably these are vol sterilt/.ations in the sense that the consent of guardians is required, but the st; mm>inl such guardians. The constitutionality of this procedure in the case of the minded was upheld in (36). The North Carolina law and others like it are ethical questionable. In Skimmr v. Oklahoma, the Supreme Court did declare a law per (he sterili/.alion of "habitual criminals" to be unconstitutional (29).
' To s-iy a right is "fundamental" means, in this context, that it is the kind i
tint is rccoi'ni/.able as universal, that is, a right belonging to every human be
hum-in bciiu'  as it is in the United Nations, "Universal Declaration of Human F
•les 1-3 (30  P 492). It would bo recognized as such by an ideal observer who
informed and impartial, and who can vividly imagine how his actions affect oth
• udescription of such an ideal moral judge, see Firth (14). Furthermore ,
„      U   igh  has a prima facie claim upon us. (See Ewtag (33) or his
',U tishc theories of rights.) A fundamental right, therefore alwayshas some c
i                 ore may be circumstances in which a particular fundamental right c
I  ,.i iId  because of a conflict between more than one individual or more tl
I       , en i   riplit. When one person, for example, attacks another, the persor